A personal elevator pitch: How to make an impression that sticks

A personal elevator pitch is a short, focused statement about the job you would like to have and why you're the perfect fit for the position.

Every job seeker should have at least one succinct, energetic personal elevator pitch in their toolkit. This simple snippet of information acts as the perfect base from which to launch into a conversation about your skills, experience and professional goals.

A personal elevator pitch is a short, focused statement about the job you would like to have and why you're the perfect fit for the position. It's not a resume and it's not a substitute for interview preparation. The value of the personal elevator pitch comes from being able to condense your professional self down into the most interesting data points.

The process of writing down your elevator pitch - and you should write it down - can help you focus your cover letter, better prep for interviews and give you a leg up over the competition. If you're working with a professional recruiter, an elevator pitch is also a good way to get the conversation flowing at the beginning of your relationship.

Before you start writing

Writing your pitch down is beneficial because it not only helps you remember, but also gives you more freedom to think and try a few different tactics. When you can see your words on the screen, they're easy to edit and adjust until they're just right.

When you sit down to write your personal elevator pitch, you'll need to start with research. That's right, you'll need to research yourself. Fast Company magazine recommended keeping a document of all your professional achievements. This document will help you when writing resumes and cover letters as well.

If there are any associated statistics with these accomplishments, document them as well. Did you save your last company money? Have you brought on a large client or made an impactful sale?

Next, open up a blank document and ask yourself a few questions to get your thoughts flowing better. SkillCrush suggested starting with something simple, such as:

  • What kind of work are you interested in?
  • What's your ideal job?
  • What kinds of problems do you solve?

Answers these questions as thoroughly as possible. It's better to start with a lot of information and then pare it down. Although elevator pitches are short, simply choosing the first data point that comes to mind isn't the best option. You want as much information as possible so you can pick out the best points.

An elevator pitch is a good way to answer the question, "Tell me about yourself."

Narrow your data points

Once you've compiled a list of your professional accomplishments and have written your answers to the questions above, it's time to narrow your data down into something that more closely resembles a personal elevator pitch.

If you find it difficult to whittle down your information to one or two key data points, remember that you can write out a handful of pitches for different audiences. Perhaps you have a pitch for job fairs, another for interviews and a third in case you happen to run into the CEO of your dream company. Remember, a personal elevator pitch doesn't need to be comprehensive - just interesting.

"I find that the most ideal elevator pitch addresses your strengths, highlights your experiences and promotes your future desires," comments Tristan Marchette, Senior Managing Consultant for Beacon Hill's Technologies Division in Boston. "A good elevator pitch should change depending upon the position you are targeting. Be sure to read through the job description that you are applying to, acknowledge strengths that are found within the description and then highlight where you gained these strengths, before finally closing with your desires to be considered. Something like this:

Having 10 years of highly specialized software development experience, I bring strong hands-on coding skills, requirement gathering skills, strong systems level understanding and software architecture knowledge to any software team. During my years as a software developer here in Boston I have regularly attended technology meetups, read countless books and articles, attended conferences and learned from my peers and managers each and every day. The ideal opportunity for me would be a role where I can leverage my existing skills in______ to join a forward thinking and progressive company such as ________."

SkillCrush suggested thinking of your elevator pitch as the beginning of a conversation. In fact, you can structure your pitch with this goal in mind. For instance, after you introduce yourself, you can ask the other person if they've ever experienced a problem that you know how to solve.

"Practice your pitch with your recruiter."

Polish your pitch and practice it

Once you've narrowed down your data points, it's time to refine the wording. You want your pitch to be easy to remember and interesting.

Here's an example of a polished pitch from The Balance: "I have a decade's worth of experience in accounting, working primarily with small and midsize firms. If your company is ever in need of an extra set of hands, I'd be thrilled to consult."

While you practice and prepare your elevator pitch, also keep in mind that this exercise comes in handy for much more than finding a job. You will be rewarded for your ability to concisely present compelling arguments throughout your professional life. For example, Stacei Shelley, our Division Manager of Beacon Hill's Associates Division in Fort Worth, utilizes variations of a couple of distinct elevator pitches while she leads her team in that market: "For perspective clients, I like to feature our company's success in the Dallas-Fort Worth area over the past 6 years, as well as our ability to provide high quality candidates with a highly consultative approach. We provide the best of both worlds: local market expertise, experience and service of a boutique firm, combined with the resources, leadership and capabilities of one of the largest staffing firms in the country."

"For candidates interested in joining our team, I will highlight our success as a company, but will also speak to what we want to accomplish in terms of building a team – we want a team of leaders, and we offer high income potential, true work/life balance, real career growth, continuous professional development and the opportunity to be a part of creating something special here."

So if you're working with a recruiter, practice your elevator pitch on him or her first. They can give you feedback on how it can be tweaked and perfected for your target audience.

Try writing a few versions of your pitch and testing them out when you get a chance. And remember, an elevator pitch is an opportunity to start a conversation. Engaging with your listener on a personal level is the key to landing your dream job.

This content is brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.

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